Memphis Grizzlies Continue To Defy NBA Betting Expectations

Posted on February 13, 2020 - Last Updated on October 27, 2020

Legal sportsbooks around the country significantly underestimated Memphis’ NBA team. That’s obvious comparing past Grizzlies futures with how the team has actually performed.

Memphis has already surpassed its preseason win expectancy at most of the books with 28 games left to play on its schedule. Because of that, anyone who bet the over on that win total has already won that bet. The Grizzlies may not be done making bettors who took risks on them smile either.

Grizzlies futures at legal sportsbooks: then and now

After Memphis bought veteran center Dwight Howard out of his contract last August, the odds of Memphis making the playoffs sat at their longest. For example, FanDuel had the Grizzlies +1,700 to qualify for the postseason at that point.

Those were the longest such odds of any Western Conference team. Only the Cleveland Cavaliers had longer playoffs odds at that point in the entire NBA.

The consensus on Memphis’ win total before the season began was 26.5. Heading into their game on Thursday, Feb. 20 in Sacramento, the Grizzlies already have 28 victories.

Perhaps most importantly, Memphis is currently on track to be the eighth and final playoff team in the NBA’s Western Conference. They have a four-game lead over the Portland Trail Blazers in the standings right now.

While FanDuel still has the Grizzlies +5,500 to win the Southwest Division and +7,000 to win the Western Conference, Memphis has leapfrogged several teams in those pools they formerly lagged behind. The Grizzlies may pull off more upsets yet this season too.

Grizzlies moves to improve its depth at the deadline

The Grizzlies didn’t stand pat at the trade deadline this season. Memphis put together a package of Jae Crowder, Solomon Hill, and Andre Iguodala for the Miami Heat.

In return, the Grizzlies acquired point guard Justice Winslow and a future protected first-round draft selection. It was somewhat like getting something for nothing, however.

The roles of Crowder, Hill, and Iguodala in the Grizzlies’ success this season has been minimal if not altogether absent. It’s like using rewards credits to place a winning bet.

Winslow had great moments with Miami and is a skilled player. The biggest criticism against him has been his ability to avoid injuries and stay on the court.

If he can stay healthy, he should contribute. Winslow’s talent may be enough to help Memphis make up the difference between itself and the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder, who currently occupy the West’s sixth and seventh seeds.

That could mean the difference between facing the Los Angeles Lakers or the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. Additionally, snagging an extra high draft pick is nothing to scoff at, though it obviously won’t have any impact on this season.

Another element of this story should excite Grizzlies fans even more. When those first-round matchups are made, Tennessee’s legal sportsbooks could be ready for the action.

Everything is working in concert for the NBA playoffs

The latest projections for when legal sportsbooks in Tennessee might actually start accepting wagers just happens to coincide perfectly with when Memphis could start its unexpected playoff run. The NBA Playoffs are the target date. With the potential to bring in money from fans betting on a local team in the NBA Playoffs

If the Grizzlies are involved, especially as high as a sixth seed, that will be a perfect opportunity for legal books to promote themselves. The onus is now on Memphis to at least stay where they’re at right now through the rest of the regular season. And the onus is on the Tennessee Lottery to have betting ready if and when that time comes.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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